Czech ex-president Havel to be buried Friday

Last Updated: Monday, December 19, 2011 - 11:17

Moscow: The funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who died Sunday morning at the age of 75, will take place Friday, the CTK news agency said.

The former president, a former chain smoker with chronic respiratory problems, had been in failing health for last few months. He was one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s.

"The coffin with Vaclav Havel`s body will be put in the Vladislavsky Sal [Vladislav Hall] of the Prague Castle on Wednesday, December 21, so that people could pay their last respect," the head of the Czech presidential administration, Jiri Weigl, said.

A book of condolences for Vaclav Havel will be placed in Prague Castle Monday.
Czech leaders -- President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Necas and speakers of two chambers of the Czech Parliament, Milan Stech and Miroslava Nemcova, -- gathered in the Prague Castle Sunday to discuss the funeral ceremony.

Havel first came to international fame as a dissident playwright in the 1970s. The playwright turned political activist spent four-and-a-half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia`s Communist government before emerging as a leader of the non-violent Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.

He was his country`s first democratically elected president after the Velvet Revolution. As president, he oversaw the country`s transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

"His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon," said US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

"He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world."


First Published: Monday, December 19, 2011 - 11:17

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